By Jeff Grandfield and Dale Willerton
For many healthcare tenants, negotiating a good lease or lease renewal against an experienced agent or landlord can be a challenge. While a doctor focuses on proper patient care, savvy real estate agents and brokers are specialized sales people. Their job is to sell tenants on leasing their location at the highest possible rental rate.
As explained in our book, Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES, tenants may go through the leasing process only two or three times in their entire lifetime – yet they have to negotiate against seasoned professionals who negotiate leases every day for a living. Negotiating appropriate leasing terms is vital for a doctor as the amount of rent he pays will directly affect the practice’s financial bottom line.
Whether you are leasing a new location for the first time or negotiating a lease renewal for your practice, these are some money-saving tips for healthcare tenants:
Change the Day the Rent is Due: For many small or medium-sized healthcare practices, the monthly rent represents a large portion of the doctor’s overhead. Paying the rent on the first of the month can often be a hardship. This is because other expenses (such as payroll, loan payments, equipment leases, etc.) can also come due that same day. During lease negotiations, or even during the lease term, you can often request and get permission to pay your rent on the tenth day of every month – or even later. Ask … what have you got to lose?
Check Out the HVAC System: If you occupy strip mall space or a building where your practice premises has a designated Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) unit then your lease probably says that you are responsible for that HVAV unit. While most property managers have preventative maintenance inspections done, you can stipulate that the HVAC unit be inspected and repaired before accepting any responsibility for it.
Anticipate Your Lease Assignment: Landlords anticipate that you will eventually sell your practice and that you will want to assign your lease agreement … you should do so too! Some lease agreements say that the landlord can unilaterally terminate your lease rather than grant an assignment. On the other hand, the landlord can automatically raise the rent for the new tenant (your buyer). Check this clause very carefully before you knowingly agree to it … and then negotiate for changes.
Don’t Give Post-dated Checks: One of the main jobs for a property manager is to collect the rent from tenants. Having post-dated checks already sent in makes this job much easier. As a doctor, however, you may not have the rent money until the third day of the month. Paying the rent a few days late is better than bouncing a check. Perhaps there is a recurring problem with the air conditioner or the snow hasn’t been removed from the parking lot this week? By not providing post-dated checks, you can retain some control. It is often possible to modify this clause in the lease – or negotiate it out of the lease completely.
For a copy of our free CD, Leasing Do’s & Don’ts for Commercial Tenants, please e-mail request to DaleWillerton@TheLeaseCoach.com.
Jeff Grandfield and Dale Willerton – The Lease Coach are Commercial Lease Consultants who work exclusively for tenants. Jeff and Dale are professional speakers and co-authors of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES (Wiley, 2013). Got a leasing question? Need help with your new lease or renewal? Call 1-800-738-9202, e-mail DaleWillerton@TheLeaseCoach.com or JeffGrandfield@TheLeaseCoach.com or visit www.TheLeaseCoach.com